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<p>Owl City's &quot;The Midsummer Station&quot;</p>

Owl City's "The Midsummer Station"

Album Review: Owl City's 'The Midsummer Station' soars from high to low

Adam Young exalts and despairs in equal measure

When Owl City first swooped onto the pop scene  with 2009’s  “Fireflies,” he was frequently compared to The Postal Service with good reason: The synthesized pop sound and twee factor were similarly high.

On “The Midsummer Station,”  Owl City (aka Adam Young) pairs with other producers and songwriters for the first time,  and the result is a slight expansion of his sound that renders it just as recognizable, but marginally more diverse and slightly less precious.

Lest that sound like a swipe, part of Young’s appeal is his relentless positivity in many songs, often delivered with a keening earnestness that lends itself to teenage girls and misfit kids who want someone to tell them that it will all be okay. His ability to accomplish that alone is a reason to cheer for him.  On
“Shooting Star,” he crosses Katy Perry’s “Firework” with any host of  David Guetta songs for an uplifting anthem. “Embers” treads a similar path, but with its encouraging words —including “It gets better”— it  could serve as a theme for the gay anti-bullying campaign of the same name.

When Young’s not riding unicorns into the sunset and looking up at the stars (one of his favorite themes), then he’s in the depths of despair. “Silhouette” veers from the standard formula in that it starts on a real piano instead of synths and poignantly addresses a pain brought on by Young’s own action that has left him feeling obliterated and exhausted, yet unable to move on. The deliberate quietness of the production adds to the feeling of self-imposed solitude.  On “Take It All Away,” his only prayer is to keep it together until the person who has  broken his heart leaves so she doesn’t see him crumble.

The album’s sweet spot comes with “Good Time,” his duet with It Girl, Carly Rae Jepsen. The pop charmer, which has already breached the Hot 100’s Top 15, draws heavily from Perry’s “California Gurls” chorus, but stands on its own as a proper summer anthem. Their voices suit the song well.

“Dementia” features Blink 182‘s Mark Hoppus,which automatically makes it the album’s hardest driving track. Lyrically, it’s a look at Young’s fast developing fame and what it did to his head following “Fireflies.”  “This is love, this is war, this is pure insanity,” he sings.

The outside writers and producers seemingly show their influence the most in the music. While too many of the songs still sound too similar and too reliant on the same synth beats, “Gold” had a stomp that makes it stand out. “I’m Coming After You” ultimately  doesn’t succeed because Young’s too sincere to pull off the cheekiness of the lyrical twists, but he sings in a bolder, stronger fashion that shows a different side of him worth exploring.

Young saves the best track for last: “Metropolis,” a tune about coming home to the only one who “gets me,” has a depth and different lyrical theme than most of his songs. Plus the strings add a pleasing dimension.

In many ways, “The Midsummer Station” feels like  it was made by an artist in transition. If he’s willing to keep stepping out of his comfort zone, it will be worthwhile to see what Young does next.

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<p>Frankenweenie Unleashed album art</p>

Frankenweenie Unleashed album art

Credit: Disney

Listen to Karen O's song for 'Frankenweenie,' 'Strange Love'

Cha cha cha

We're heard Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontlady Karen O tackle a Led Zeppelin classic for "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and make tunes for traipsing around a pretend adventure-land for "Where the Wild Things Are." Now the singer has tried on a little calypso number for size, for "Frankenweenie."

Tim Burton's stop-motion feature will feature a zombie dog and other various hodge-podge animalia, all in black and white. Karen O's "Strange Love" also features dogs, but it's colorful and cha-cha-child-like, featuring a zither (bless her heart), congos, bongos and steel drum. It's a good time and, yes, strange.

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<p>Kelen Coleman and Alison Pill in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Kelen Coleman and Alison Pill in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'The Newsroom' - 'The Blackout Part 2: Mock Debate'

The power comes back on, but everything else continues to go wrong

A quick review of last night's "The Newsroom" coming up just as soon as I'm in a conspiracy cahoots...

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<p>Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in &quot;To the Wonder.&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in "To the Wonder."

Credit: FilmNation Entertainment

'To the Wonder' to continue Malick's autobiographical focus?

Synopsis suggests director's latest may be drawn from his romantic past

With screenings of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" suddenly popping up all over the place -- to the consternation, I believe, of Venice festival brass, who usually secure world premiere slots for their Competition titles -- Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder" stands as the greatest unwrapped enigma of the fall festival season. Typically for the publicity-shy director, details of the narrative and stylistic construction of his latest have been spare. There's been no trailer. No poster, either. And while a single still has been floating around online for over a year, no others have joined it to show us what visual poetry Emmanuel Lubezki might have up his sleeve this time round.

We've known for some time that "To the Wonder" -- the first film of Malick's career with a more or less contemporary setting -- is a romance of sorts, centering around a reunion between childhood friends Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. The synopsis from production company FilmNation offers a few more specifics -- as well as an explanation of the film's only superficially oblique title -- that suggests the autobiographical urges that propelled last year's "The Tree of Life" may once more be at play here.

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<p>Tony Scott is seen here at the premiere of 'Deja Vu' with his twin sons, who both appeared in the movie.</p>

Tony Scott is seen here at the premiere of 'Deja Vu' with his twin sons, who both appeared in the movie.

Credit: AP Photo/Max Nash

Director Tony Scott's career remembered

As his family and fans attempt to understand his choice, we look back at his work

When faced with a suicide, it is impossible for even those close to a person to fully understand what it is that pushed them to such a final solution, and I certainly don't intend to speculate about what might have led Tony Scott to take his own life this weekend.

Instead, let's look back at his body of work and the mark he left on modern filmmaking.  While I will not pretend to suddenly love everything he directed, his filmography is defined by an ever-shifting sense of style and by the way he successfully reinvented himself many times.  With his brother, Ridley Scott, he created a company that has been responsible for successful film and television projects for decades now, and he had dozens of projects in development.  Obviously, it's impossible to guess what work he might have done in the future, so the best we can do now is look back at the highlights of the work he leaves behind.

I was thirteen when "The Hunger" was released, and even if that was the only film he ever directed, I would have owed him a hearty handshake.  For thirteen year old me, "The Hunger" set the bar pretty high.  Nudity from both Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve?  David Bowie as a vampire?  Good lord, what part of that does thirteen year old me not like?  The thing was, even at that age, I was aware that the film looked better than it played, that the style was overwhelming even if the story wasn't.  It was a gorgeous movie that had the pulse of a perfume commercial, a charge that would follow Scott through much of his career.

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Kristin Bauer van Straten on "True Blood"
What's wrong with Bill? Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) may have the answer on "True Blood"
Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

'True Blood' recap: 'Sunset' sets up the season finale

Six big questions as we near the finish line

One way to tell the season of "True Blood" is almost over: only half the scenes in this week's episode felt like tiresome dead ends, compared to the usual 75-80%. "Sunset" was all about setting up the finale, and having that finish line in sight brought a little urgency to the season's meandering storylines.

It also brought many of the characters closer together (while relegating Terry and Arlene to a single scene and Lafayatte to a single sassy line), while raising far more questions than next week's finale will likely have time to answer. Here are six of the biggest:

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"Big Brother"

"Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: A new HOH could shake up the game

Wil is out, so who's in control?

We return to the hamsters' battle for HOH, which is old news to everyone who subscribes to the CBS feed but, hey, let's not spoil it for everyone, right? Anyway, everyone's sliding and falling and dumping greasy brown liquid into tubs. Not everyone is dumping their liquid into their HOH tub, of course -- some are playing for safety, and Boogie is playing for $10,000 all by himself. Frank is justifiably pissed that Boogie isn't going for HOH, as he can't compete and the only alliance he can trust is the one he has with Boogie. But hey, Boogie is just a struggling college student, knee deep in student loans. Hmmm, I know that's not right… so why not try to, you know, win HOH?

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<p>Walt (Bryan Cranston)&nbsp;has a story to tell Jesse on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Walt (Bryan Cranston) has a story to tell Jesse on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Buyout'

The pacing feels off as the guys deal with the aftermath of the train robbery

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I watch a documentary about simulated caviar...

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<p>Sigourney Weaver in &quot;Political Animals.&quot;</p>

Sigourney Weaver in "Political Animals."

Credit: USA

Season finale review: 'Political Animals' - 'Resignation Day'

Garcetti complicates Elaine's plan as the miniseries draws to a close

A quick review of the "Political Animals" finale coming up just as soon as I unzip this cushion...

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<p>Tom Weston-Jones in &quot;Copper.&quot;</p>

Tom Weston-Jones in "Copper."

Credit: BBC America

Series premiere review: 'Copper' - 'Surviving Death'

What did everybody think of the BBC America period cop drama?

I posted my review of "Copper" on Thursday, and an interview with co-creator Tom Fontana yesterday. Now it's your turn. What did everybody think of Fontana, Will Rokos and Barry Levinson's 1864 New York cop show? Did you like star Tom Weston-Jones? Were you drawn to any characters in particular? How did you feel the show did at recreating the time period on a Toronto soundstage? And will you keep watching? 

Because I feel like the show isn't quite there yet, and also because it happens to be airing (for the next few weeks, anyway) opposite both "Breaking Bad" and "The Newsroom," I don't expect I'll be doing weekly reviews, but I'll try to check back in later in the season to offer some thoughts on how (or if) the show is evolving.

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<p>Anthony Anderson and Zach Cregger of &quot;Guys with Kids&quot;</p>

Anthony Anderson and Zach Cregger of "Guys with Kids"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'

If you don't find the idea of men parenting to be hilarious, you won't laugh

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"Guys with Kids" (NBC)
The Pitch: "You know how sometimes babies have fathers? That's pretty CRAZY, right?"
Quick Response: Oh dads. So biologically and evolutionarily unprepared to take even a partial interest in raising their children. I mean, put a person with man-parts together with a baby and that's just an instant recipe for hilarity, right? I mean, you don't even have to add water to watch the wackiness ensue. You can just add a little spit-up or some poop and the punchlines write themselves. Don't they? Hmmm... The team behind "Guys with Kids" seems to be hoping that the punchlines will write themselves. It's not that there aren't a couple laughs in "Guys with Kids." Anthony Anderson makes me chuckle occasionally. And there's a cameo that was appealingly absurd. And... Yeah. I did laugh a couple times. That's something. But it isn't much and I cringed many more times. Anderson is easily the funniest of the core trio. Zach Cregger, who I vaguely remember from "Friends with Benefits" -- you don't want to have been in my brain when I was trying to go through my internal screener queue trying to place him -- has comedic timing, but no real punchlines to work with. And Jesse Bradford is, unfortunately, pretty bad. It's not completely Bradford's fault, though his sitcom rhythms aren't close to natural. He also has the least appealing character, the least amusing pilot plotline and, at least in the pilot, the most toxic relationship with the female in his life. That could change, though, because Bradford's ex is played by Sara Rue, but Erinn Hayes will be taking over. I have no objections to Sara Rue, but I happen to have actively liked Erinn Hayes since "Kitchen Confidential" and "The Winner," so that feels like an upgrade and that upgrade will have me watching at least one or two more episodes. Based only on the pilot, I don't see much overall upside, though. This is lazy, broad, generic multi-cam comedy that is just much, much more amused by its core premise than I am. I understand that it's apparently Salvador Dali-level surreal to have men as caregivers but... I need more to sink my teeth into, or more than just rehashed man-mockery and babies-as-props, all egged on by a loud studio audience/laff-track. Ultimately, I have very little to say about "Guys with Kids," but it doesn't have very much to say either. I suppose that if this show reflects your personal life circumstances you might find it funny. I can't say.
Desire To Watch Again: I'll give it that courtesy episode or two, but it feels like NBC already has a more nuanced comedy about child-rearing with a cast that I like much more than this and I can't bring myself to regularly watch "Up All Night" either. This isn't on that level.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

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<p>Mindy Kaling of &quot;The Mindy Project&quot;</p>

Mindy Kaling of "The Mindy Project"

Credit: FOX

Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'

Mindy Kaling's voice is a good starting point for a comedy with promise

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

 

Show:"The Mindy Project" (FOX)
The Pitch: Mindy Kaling! Mindy Kaling! Mindy Kaling!
Quick Response: Mindy Kaling is a bestselling author, an Emmy nominated writer-producer, a charming tweeter and a wildly likable supporting actress. Used to her full potential maybe a half-dozen times in her tenure on "The Office," it's two or three years past time for Kaling to get a chance to be front-and-center on her own series. "The Mindy Project" isn't perfect. I'm not sure I laughed out loud more than once or twice. But what it is is the work of a singular voice, one that's simultaneously smart and loopy, simultaneously whimsical and romantic, but also sarcastic and grounded. Mindy's character looks like no other leading character on TV and talks like no other character on TV and even if "The Mindy Project" is a work-in-progress, it's one that I'm looking forward to continuing with. The show's biggest challenge going forward is finding a way to keep letting Mindy be Mindy while also getting the most out of a supporting cast that's very strong, but initially underutilized. Ed Weeks gives off a charming Hugh Grant vibe, but that's all he's got so far. Chris Messina is brash and fairly funny, but as much as I like Chris Messina -- he's an astonishingly versatile actor and one need only hold his work here next to his "Damages," "Newsroom" and string of Sundance performances to respect the heck out of him -- he's pushing the "I'm in a sitcom" comedic buttons a bit hard here. Both male leads are given a wealth of material compared to Anna Camp, who has been a guest-starring MVP or four or five shows in recent years, but makes the transition to series regular with what initially reads as a nothing part. Throw in guest starring turns by Bill Hader and Ed Helms, plus Richard Schiff (who will become Steven Tobolowsky when we get a final pilot) and there are a lot of very talented people supporting Mindy on this show and she'll need to let them provide that support. I'm also wondering on the show's ability or desire to maintain what is a relentless pop culture-referencing pace in the pilot. Mindy's character loves timeless romantic comedies, but it's hard to be timeless when you're making Siri, Michael Fassbender and "Precious" jokes rapid-fire. It's possible that these shout-outs could work better once the show is on a weekly production schedule, or it could be something that makes episodes instantly dated. We'll see.
Desire To Watch Again: I feel good about "The Mindy Project." Heck, I even like the title, which some people seem to hate. Is the problem just that Kaling's character has her real name? It's a show about a woman-in-transition and the title reflects that completely, with a nod to its creator as well. Anyway, with proper improvements and evolution, "The Mindy Project" is a good pairing with "New Girl" and with "Raising Hope" and "Ben and Kate," it gives FOX what could be a really solid two-hour comedy block, qualitatively.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

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